Aging with HIV: Here’s what you need to know about it

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When we talk about HIV positive individuals, we often picture a person in their 20s or 30s for some reason. Maybe it’s because people who use HIV dating sites are approximately that age, who knows. However, thanks to the antiretroviral therapy which was developed in the 1990s, infected individuals can now live long and productive lives. Therefore, in a couple of years, more than a half of diagnosed individuals will be seniors. Anyways, here is what you need to know about aging with HIV.

Does the virus accelerate the aging process?

Yes, younger people who are HIV positive might develop age-related health conditions. However, you should keep in mind that a few decades ago being diagnosed with HIV was a death sentence, and now these people can live longer and healthier lives.

Are seniors with HIV socially accepted?

Unfortunately, older adults who are not infected are less isolated and lonely than people their age who have HIV. Positive seniors are often rejected by their family members, which affects their quality of life. Therefore, they should contact HIV support groups which gather a lot of older adults. That way, they will meet other people who understand what they are going through and even make new friends.

When should you get screened for cancer?

Seniors with higher CD4 counts (over 350) should be screened for colorectal carcinoma at age 50. From the moment they turn 50, women should be checked for breast cancer every two years. Also, sexually active ladies should be screened every three years for cervical cancer. In case you have lower CD4 counts, you should talk with your doctor and discuss your preferences and health goals.

Should older people with HIV use antiretrovirals?

This kind of therapy is recommended for all people who have HIV. Seniors might even benefit more from it since they are at higher risk of developing serious complications. On the other hand, their doctors should carefully monitor their bone, kidney, cardiovascular, and liver functions. Because seniors are usually on several medications, they should keep track of them and notify their health provider if some unwanted changes occur.

Does aging with HIV increase frailty?

Older people are prone to falls and injuries. However, seniors with HIV have more fragile bones which often lead to fractures. Some studies have shown that regular exercising can improve their balance and strength so that they can lead quality lives.

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